Political columnists debate: Bentley declares proration (conservative view)

1) Do you agree with the Governor’s decision to declare proration on the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund? Why or Why not?

Yes. Something has to be done, and raising taxes in the time of a recession is not necessary. We have to come to grips with reality and cut the wasteful spending within government. Education and the General Fund must be cut, but we must cut from the top down to get rid of the administrative overhead that burdens our state and local government budgets. Since education has a major portion of funding going to its budget (over 80 percent) we have to be willing to cut here and get rid of the overhead so that the classrooms will not be affected as much.

2) Some programs such as the prison system and ethic commission did not receive proration. Do you think it is fair to the rest of the state programs to receive proration and these not?

Yes. This is fair because we must keep our prisons functioning as well as our ethics commission to maintain justice within the state. We need to keep those that violated crimes in facilities and not release them just because money is getting tight, for we lose our sense of justice in doing so. Also, we must make sure that the ethics commission gets proper funding to ensure that public officials are operating within the ethics code of Alabama, holding them accountable. We must be just in all of our dealings, and maintaining funding in these two areas is crucial to that.

3) Do you think there is any other way to balance the budget in Alabama besides proration?

I think there are other ways, but it will take cooperation from many groups. My solution for Alabama is to raise the amount that state employees pay in insurance and retirement premiums. For example, a single employee pays $15 in health insurance premiums, in which the taxpayers subsidize $790 of the total cost, according to the Alabama State Employees Insurance Board. I believe the rate at which state employees should pay is 28 percent for single adults, and 32 percent for family coverage. This would save the taxpayer over $200 per month for a single person’s coverage, and this is still less than what the private sector pays for health insurance.

4) What effects do you believe this will have on our state and the programs that have been affected?

I see much urgency for the new republican-led legislature to bring proposals such as mine to the board. This will lead to much more efficiency with government. This will not go well with the AEA and similar unions, but we must realize that it is time to make cuts and reel in spending. I think with proposals like mine, we will still see beneficial programs within the classrooms and our schools will remain fully functional. It will be a temporary cut, but I believe that cutting some administrative overhead, as well as decreasing much of the state costs to taxpayers, will bring us a much more fiscally responsible government.